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  1. Movies

13 new movies you have to see over the holiday season

Hugh Jackman in a scene from "The Greatest Showman." (Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)
Hugh Jackman in a scene from "The Greatest Showman." (Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)
Published Dec. 12, 2017

Hollywood has enough movies left to get everyone through the holidays plus any New Year's hangover.

Many are aiming for awards glory, a few are just here for the party. The really serious contenders won't open nationwide until early 2018, after awards-qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles before Dec. 31.

Studios expect I, Tonya, The Post, Phantom Thread and Call Me by Your Name to go far in awards races, hoping to stretch their momentum and visibility.

Here are 2017's final movie diversions from shopping, gift wrapping and family tolerating. Happy holidays.

The Greatest Showman

Hugh Jackman steps into the center ring as circus impresario P.T. Barnum in a musical postponed a year to avoid competing with La La Land. Barnum's founding of show business offers a razzle-dazzle setting for Jackman's formidable singing and dancing skills. Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya co-star. Step right up.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Even Dwayne Johnson's size 14 feet can't fill the shoes of Robin Williams in a sequel to the late comedian's 1995 hit. Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan are avatars inhabited by teenagers supernaturally sucked into a video game. They can return only after finding an artifact left behind by Williams' character. Or singing a Guns N' Roses song.

Darkest Hour

Across the channel from Dunkirk, Great Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided whether to negotiate surrender to Germany or continue the good fight. Gary Oldman is a leading Oscar contender as Churchill, for his portrayal and feelings among peers that he's overdue. Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice).

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi romance spins horror elements and cinephile spirit into an erotic Beauty and the Beast. A mute custodian (Sally Hawkins) at a top secret government lab falls in love with a captive merman (Doug Jones) during the Cold War. Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins are helping the creature escape; Michael Shannon wants to kill him.

Pitch Perfect 3

One last encore from the Bellas a capella posse, now scattered with real lives to disrupt. They reunite for a USO tour competition that will, of course, go harmoniously awry. Anna Kendrick's spunky Beca and Rebel Wilson's (not-so) Fat Amy (anymore) lead the chorus, backed up by Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow and Ruby Rose.

Downsizing

Watch a terrific sci-fi premise shrink to nothingness before your eyes. Alexander Payne's satire sends a financially stressed couple (Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig) to a miniaturized community where money goes further. Then Payne's small-world set-up amuses until Christoph Waltz and Udo Kier arrive and things get really strange.

Father Figures

The holidays aren't complete without an R-rated comedy for half the family. Owen Wilson and Ed Helms play fraternal twins searching for the biological father their mother (Glenn Close) lied about being dead. The possibilities include Oscar winners Christopher Walken and J.K. Simmons, Ving Rhames and NFL great Terry Bradshaw.

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Molly's Game

Holding its cards until Christmas Day is Aaron Sorkin's directing debut, the true story of Molly Bloom who operated Hollywood's hottest high-stakes poker games. Jessica Chastain plays Bloom, whose celebrity clients are given pseudonyms in Sorkin's screenplay. Idris Elba co-stars as Bloom's defense attorney when the FBI comes calling.

All the Money in the World

Director Ridley Scott will make his deadline to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer as billionaire J. Paul Getty. Looking for seams will be a distraction from the true-life kidnapping of Getty's grandson, coincidentally played by Charlie Plummer (no relation). Michelle Williams plays his mother, hoping a security expert (Mark Wahlberg) solves the case.

I, Tonya

Margot Robbie skates rings around her best actress Oscar competition as Tonya Harding, a champion on the ice and cold-blooded rough customer off of it. Robbie is matched tooth and nail by Allison Janney as Tonya's mother and Sebastian Stan as abusive husband Jeff Gillooly. Abrasive stuff that director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) makes oddly sweet.

The Post

Steven Spielberg builds the perfect Oscars beast, a true, politically relevant tale starring the two most decorated and respected actors of their generation. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks portray Washington Post icons Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee, wrestling with the decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. Any resemblance to present-day First Amendment challenges is purely intentional.

Phantom Thread

Say it ain't so, Daniel Day-Lewis. After three Oscars and far too soon, Day-Lewis announced he's retiring from acting. His swan song reunites the actor with director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) for a drama of passion and fashion in 1950's London. Expect a nomination for Day-Lewis as a going-away present, at the very least.

Call Me by Your Name

Luca Guadagnino's coming-out-of-age romance is currently the awards season frontrunner among independent films. Timothee Chalamet stars as a teenager crushing on his father's research assistant (Armie Hammer) in sun-drenched Northern Italy. Screenplay by James Ivory, putting him in line for his first writing Oscar in an illustrious 60-year career.

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